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Dylan Parry earns ‘Metal of Honor’ for 12 years collecting pop tab

Dylan Parry, left, with his younger brother, Asher, 7, show off the Metal of Honor certificate he received for collecting more than 1,000 pounds of pop tabs over 12 years to the benefit of Ronald McDonald House Charities. (Provided photo)

Collecting more than 1,000 pounds of pop tabs earned Dylan Parry the “Metal of Honor” from Ronald McDonald House Charities and United Scrap Metal. The award recognizes his outstanding efforts to raise funds for the charity.

His Metal of Honor (get the pun?) is special recognition for all his efforts the past dozen years and recognizes the difference one small act can make in someone else’s life. This year, United Scrap Metal, the company that handles the pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House Charities, presented the organization with an $85,000 check for their recycled donations.

Dylan Parry as a 7-year-old with one of his first pop tab collections. He was honored by Ronald McDonald House Charities for his 12-year effort collecting tabs to raise money for the organization.
(Provided photo)

After the presentation, Parry and his family were guests of United Scrap Metal where they toured the plant and learned about the recycling operations.

Parry, 19, of Homewood has been collecting pop tabs since he was 7. He started asking neighbors and friends to remember to remove the little pieces of metal from their cans. Retired Willow School teacher Patti Jo Boehm helped out for years by making collecting tabs as a class project. 

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Parry continues to collect the pop tab donations to add to his total. He knows that even a small baggie full of tabs can help the cause. There’s as much aluminum in the pop tab as there is in the can itself.

It was Parry’s mom, Brooke King LaBreck, who got the project started. As an infant, Parry required medical care when it was discovered he was born with a congenital defect. He spent weeks at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s Hospital) in Chicago before he was strong enough to have a life-saving surgery to remove a cyst from his chest cavity where a lung should have developed. The cyst was crowding out his other lung and heart.

Throughout those days of anguish and concern, LaBreck stayed at the Ronald McDonald House affiliated with the hospital.

“Essentially they took every life’s worry off my plate so I could focus on being there for him. It was everything to me,” LaBreck said, and when she checked out and didn’t get a bill, she knew she’d find a way to support the organization. 

“I vowed then that I would do whatever I could to raise awareness and funding for Ronald McDonald House, and it started with something as simple as collecting my pop tabs and when Dylan was old enough, he started pestering people for their pop tabs, too, and that’s how it grew beyond our household,” LaBreck said.

The family has worked with several organizations to be drop-off sites for their pop tab collection, including the Flossmoor Community Church office, FCC Weekday Preschool, Wiley’s Grill at Coyote Run Golf Course in Flossmoor, the Homewood Public Library and the Churchill School office.

“We were so excited to honor Dylan as the ‘Metal of Honor’ winner at this year’s Recycle with Ronald event,” said Meg Usher of Ronald McDonald House Charities. “Dylan’s efforts in collecting pop tabs and raising awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana have been incredible. It’s so inspiring to see Dylan and his family giving back after they stayed at RMHC-CNI when he was a baby.”

Today Parry, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate, is attending Moraine Valley Community College preparing to transfer to a university to advance his study in the sciences.

Now the newest helper with the project is Parry’s 7-year-old brother Ash LaBreck, who is the same age as when Parry started collecting pop tabs.

LaBreck and Parry still make house calls to collect pop tabs. She can be contacted via email at [email protected].

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